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Op-Ed: American Energy Act Promotes Energy Security And Clean Environment

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Location: Washington, DC

American Energy Act Promotes Energy Security And Clean Environment

By Congressman Joe Pitts

This week, the House Republican Conference introduced legislation that will clean up the environment, lower energy costs, and create American jobs. The American Energy Act will strengthen America's energy security and increase clean renewable and alternative energy at the same time, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in the process.

This bill stands in stark opposition to the national energy tax moving through Congress in the form of a cap and trade plan. That plan, known as Waxman-Markey after its cosponsors, amounts to a national energy tax on every American who drives a car, turns on a stove, or takes a hot shower—all while eliminating 1.8 to 7 million jobs at a time when our economy cannot afford it.

The Waxman-Markey plan has encountered strong opposition from Representatives on both sides of the aisle because of the harmful economic effects it will have. As opposition to the Waxman-Markey plan increased, Rep. Waxman, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, started to make deals by handing out pollution credits to businesses and industries in key congressional districts. However, the effectiveness of any cap and trade plan is reduced if too many credits are out on the market at too low a price—this has been why the European version of cap and trade has not met carbon reduction goals.

Instead of a weak plan that will do little to reduce emissions yet cost consumers dearly, House Republicans have introduced a plan that will clean up the environment, lower energy costs, and create American jobs.

We need to embrace an all-of-the-above energy strategy that takes advantage of our nation's vast energy resources to increase our energy security while capitalizing on America's ingenuity to develop the next generation of clean, renewable and alternative energy sources.

The American Energy Act establishes a renewable energy trust fund that would increase environmentally safe energy production far off our shores and in remote areas of the West. It also uses revenues generated through this production to support innovation in renewable and alternative energy sources, like wind and solar technologies. The bill would likely meet the rigorous emission reduction goals that—according to their own Members—the Democrats' plan cannot even reach.

The plan would utilize revenues from increased domestic oil and gas production to establish an American Renewable and Alternative Energy Trust Fund. By increasing domestic energy production in an environmentally sensitive way, we can reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy. Included in this section of the bill is a provision I originally introduced as a separate bill years ago.

It would designate some closed military bases as sites for oil refineries. This would eliminate one hurdle companies must clear before building a new refinery: finding land.

There hasn't been a new oil refinery built in the United States in more than 30 years. As a result, our ability to refine oil and supply gas and diesel to consumers has not kept pace with the growth in demand. No matter how much crude oil is made available, the United States simply does not have the capacity to refine it.

The bill would extend tax incentives for the development of alternative fuel vehicles like hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in electric cars. It would tap into America's ingenuity and creativity by establishing prizes for innovative technologies, including fuel-efficient cars and advanced battery manufacturing—one of the key technologies to more efficient hybrid and electric cars. It would extend tax credits that incentivize efficiency in homes and commercial buildings.

The bill would also ramp up the production of nuclear energy, a clean technology that we have access to today. Another one of my ideas was included in this part of the bill. It would fast track the regulatory approval process for new nuclear reactors at sites that already have reactors.

France gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, and they recycle the waste product from the process, so they actually have less waste than we do, with much more power. The legislation establishes a national goal of licensing 100 new nuclear reactors over the next twenty years by streamlining a burdensome regulatory process and ensuring the recycling and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel.

Our nation runs on energy. Our economy, indeed our way of life, to a great extent depends on our ability to create energy at relatively affordable prices. We can create more American energy, keep energy costs low, and clean up our environment, but we need to utilize our natural resources and ingenuity, not punishment and regulation from government.


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